Michigan Works! awarded $2 million grant to train workers in southwest Michigan

BENTON HARBOR — Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren was awarded a $2 million Michigan Learning and Education Advancement Program grant from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth to respond to the economic impact of COVID-19 and help jobseekers gain skills and transition from education and training to employment.

“We’re here to help individuals in southwest Michigan get back to work by providing a strong foundation inclusive of education and training. These funds will support the workforce of tomorrow and will provide skilled talent to our regional employers,” said Lily Brewer, executive director of Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren.

The initiative, in partnership with Lake Michigan College and Southwestern Michigan College, will provide short-term education/training opportunities and supportive services for 670 individuals throughout the tri-county region over the next two years. Career navigators will help participants set career goals, identify relevant education and training opportunities, and complete requirements for college admissions and financial aid.

“We are hopeful this collaborative effort will aid in addressing the tremendous gap between industry skill needs and the number of area residents that possess those skills in southwest Michigan,” said Dr. Ken Flowers, dean of career and workforce edducation at Lake Michigan College.

Collectively, LMC and SMC have identified 47 short-term educational programs for MiLEAP participation that spans from one days to two years in duration and lead to a credential. Prospective participants must possess a high school equivalency to receive MiLEAP services. Eligible participants will be assessed to receive supportive services to address unmet needs such as tuition, books, transportation and work-related clothing.

“Our goal is to empower area residents to take advantage of the educational opportunities that will help them advance to high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers without taking on educational debt,” said Dr. Karen Reilly, dean of the school of business and advanced technology at Southwestern Michigan College.

Individuals interested in pursuing a short-term training opportunity leading to a credential should visit miworks.org/MiLEAP.

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